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Monday, December 2, 2013

Say hello

A little over 2 years ago I met this uber friendly woman named Melissa through my Retro Restyling facebook page. Melissa loved the look of the furniture I restyled so she decided to contact me about creating some furniture for her. One chit chat led to another and she commissioned two dressers that would eventually end up being Thelma and Louise.

During the process of that commission and afterwards Melissa and I grew a friendship that was very ying and yang, but pretty awesome none-the-less. She listened to country music and loved the shabby chic kind of look and I had the retro 50's look going on and listened to metal music. Yet, even though we looked different and had different interests in music and lifestyles we still hit it off and had lots of fun together. Through the short two years that our friendship grew furniture pieces like her mirror and Romy and Michelle were born. Then she decided that she wanted a new look for her old desk that was to be a centerpiece for an Americana themed room which would display her and her husbands achievements in the military. comes the sadface...

See, Melissa is a flight nurse in the Airforce and every four years she is reassigned to a new station which is typical of that branch. In the time we met she just so happened to be stationed where she grew up outside of St. Louis, but she knew a move was coming in mid 2014. Neither her nor I figured "the move" would come so soon in 2013, but Melissa happens to kick butt at her job and the higher up's noticed and offered her a promotion to be a Major..... which came with a side of "you have to move to Japan as soon as you can".

Well then.... that escalated quickly.

Needless to say I got upset. I figured I would have had a little more time with my friend and I assumed that if she was relocated I could at least visit where she was going if it was state-side. But Japan? Not so much. "Well," I said, "maybe in four years I'll be able to see you, right?" She then breaks the "I think we'll be heading to England after that." to me. UGH... Seriously???? No Melissa for 8 years?!?!? Oh my achy breaky heart!!! There's not much arguing with military processes though, so I had to bite my lip and bear it and quickly get her beautiful desk completed for her. I guess I'll have to try to win the lottery so I can travel abroad.... 

Then all of the sudden this happened....

I realized six pieces of Retro Restyling furniture (aka: my adopted out furniture babies) will be living in Japan.

*enter tons of anxiety*

Oh. My. God.
What if the moving company doesn't wrap the furniture well enough?
What happens if they screw them up with scratches?
Will they make it through the journey???? ACK!!!!!

*enter emotional break down*

I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry. In fact, at work on the morning I would be delivering the desk to her that evening I had a really hard time keeping it together. Not only was the exhaustion of working on the desk non-stop over the weekend and a few week days with no sleep catching up to me, the stress of the furniture making it to Japan was killing me and the icing on the "break down" cake was I was never going to see my friend again after I delivered the desk. That's a lot to deal with.

But I did my best to not loose my sanity stay positive and I made sure to thank Melissa for her friendship by doing something unexpectedly special for her. I asked her what her seven favorite US cities were, grabbed my two atlas's and used those maps as drawer liners. The long middle drawer (the last picture above) is St. Louis. Every time she grabs a pen out of that drawer I hope she'll remember home and think about the ones who are still here loving and missing her. She loved the desk and the maps, which I knew she would, and after a few hours of hanging out and a few hugs where I felt like I didn't want to let go, I left the desk with her and said good-bye. I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry... again.

Now that I've seen first hand how hard it is on a personal level to serve our country it makes me appreciate people who serve even more. Melissa's told me heart wrenching stories of being in harms way in Afghanistan nursing the wounded. I've seen the short-term stability of her life turned upside down repeatedly by deployments state-side. She's confided in me how hard it is to establish long-term friendships because she works so hard and moves around so much... which I have confirmed first hand.... but in the end, even though it is so hard for her and the people who love her, she wouldn't have it any other way.

She loves her job. She loves serving our country. She loves America.

Thank you Melissa...
...for your unconditional friendship, for your never ending support of my business and creativity and for the personal sacrifices you have made for us and our country over the last eight years. I wish you, Pebbles and Layla, and your new husband Steve Godspeed in this next chapter of your life. Work hard, stay safe, have fun, have babies (ha!) and always remember that even though you are in the future I'll still be back here in the past thinking of you and waiting to SKYPE!!! :)


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Say hello

What day is it today????

That's right, I'm happier than a camel on hump day because I get to show you guys the whole shabang today. Ms. C has a beautiful home full of rich color and deep wood tones so this room she had these pieces in before they were painted needed some design TLC. Functional yet... Bland. Boring. Bone colored walls. Wallpaper border. Nuff said. There was so much potential for an update with color on the walls and on the furniture, and for that added pizzazz, crown molding. She and her husband did an amazing job flipping this room to continue the flowing richness of their home.

And a let me tell you... 
When I was in the process of painting all these pieces and making it all tie in together I tried to explain the colors of the room, the colors of the furniture and how it would all blend together to people.... They would just give me that look like this:


Yeah, I get it. Some people have to see it to believe it, but boy oh boy I bet they'll get it now. 

Deep. Rich. Beautiful. Pops of color.

Like I said before, it's been a long time coming, but to see it all together is really stinkin' cool.
What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by today!


Monday, November 4, 2013

Say hello the final piece of Ms. C's 1930's dining set!

It's been a long time comin', way too long in fact, but Ms. C finally has all of her pieces to her dining set. I decided to paint this piece to compliment the other pieces in the set by making it the same color as the harp shape in the chairs, which was a custom color paint made by me. Also, knowing it was going to be on the opposite wall from her fabulous orange buffet, I used the same color in the background of the cabinet. It's definitely the icing to this three layer cake.

As I said before, it took way too long for me to complete her set. I could go on and on about why, but see... that is for another post that will be coming this week. It's wondrous how life takes us on its journeys, and how sometimes you have complete control and other times the reigns are out of your hands. These travels can be positive or negative, healing or hurtful, amazing or terrifying.

I will also be putting up another blog post this week to show you all of these pieces together in their natural habitat, and boy are they a beautiful assemble.

Thanks for stopping by today! I sure hope you love this cabinet as much as I do!!

PS. Geez, can someone tell me how you take a straight picture of a piece with glass without getting yourself in the picture??? lol


Monday, August 19, 2013

For the Love of Helping Others

I've always been one who has been drawn to helping others. I guess I've always had that little voice in the back of my head that said, "Susan... you should be there for people when they are in need." It started when I was younger and grew with me as I grew up, and when I hit my older teens I did the best I could to satisfy that hunger to help. When I turned 18 I volunteered as a firefighter in my city. While doing that I started the process to become a police officer. I decided to turn away from that calling and I enlisted in the Army instead. My military career was cut way short when I got very sick with mono even before I ever got to basic training. With my head hung low in disappointment I came home after being medically discharged. To this day I still find that voice calling me every time I see a fire truck, ambulance or a police car whiz by... or when I see tragedy on TV, I feel like I should be there helping as a first responder.

Even though I decided to never professionally walk in that direction, I still get satisfaction in helping others any way I can. For instance... as we all know I paint furniture, and in the last few years I've had some magnificent people mentor me during my journey. As many times as I have thanked those wonderful people I feel like a simple thanks will never be enough to show my appreciation. I feel like I should keep moving that loving help forward to others as they gave that love and help to me. Even though I have this somewhat mediocre retail job at a local Home Depot in the paint department, I still find myself satisfying that little voice in my head every time a lost soul comes in with a furniture painting project. I devote one-on-one time to make sure by the time they leave my store they are not overwhelmed, scared, anxious or confused by any part of their project's process. I've recommended my friend Barb's book "Furniture Makeovers" a bunch of times and I even give customers my Facebook fan page to make sure that if they ever get stuck in any part of their project, they can contact me outside of the store for help. I've been contacted many times and every time I did my best to try to help.

And then things like this happen: I get pictures... and I am blown away.

Look at that beautiful natural top on that white table... 
You had me at hello, dear.

I have to say that I am very impressed with Ms. T and her ability to transform this table and chairs into a pretty matching set on her first shot ever working on furniture. Even though there were a few hiccups along the way in her process, she pulled through and I give her mega-props. Hopefully I'll get a "in their natural habitat" picture in her kitchen all set up nice and pretty so I can share it with you.

But as for now let's all ooo and ahhh together for a second at that 2nd picture again...

Alrighty ladies and gents, I am out of here!
Thanks for stopping by, and remember... take a minute or two today and help your fellow neighbor, friend or even a stranger. Show this world that there is still hope for humanity among all the negative chaos.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Hitting Rock Bottom

There isn't much else to say when you can find the most perfect quotes that hit the tenderest, most sensitive areas of your heart, that clearly define what you've gone through in your life in the last few months. It's actually been more than a few months really... honestly it's been a steady progression over the years, and I finally hit that "rock bottom" place in my life.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I almost quit painting furniture permanently. In fact, I did quit. I threw my hands up at my life and quit everything. Everything. My finances took a turn for the worst, my relationship with my children and my father was faltering, my marriage was in shambles and I was just done. Before, I could handle a struggle or two in my life, but life had become so unstable... filled with so much heartbreak and uncertainty that I just couldn't deal with anything anymore. My genuine unbroken spirit had broken and was hiding in a fetal position under my blanket for the majority of my days. I came out to eat, go to the bathroom, cook dinner, do motherly duties and go back to bed. The slightest thought of responsibility past the unconditional care of my children would put me into an anxious state. Just looking at pieces of furniture in my basement staring at me waiting for paint would make me cower upstairs and hide.

It took a couple dear close friends of mine to tell me to never quit painting furniture.... that I was too talented, too inspiring to walk away from something I loved and was good at. Those friends helped me take those steps back to the person I use to be than the one I had become.

It took some time afterwards to begin to be brave enough to face all my fears and worries and anxieties and "decide that I want this life, more than I fear it."

This is why I haven't kept up with my blog or Facebook page, touched a paint brush, detail sanded an edge of a chair or even walked into my studio for more than a minute. My apologies for being completely vacant but I learned that if I didn't take one problem or step at a time I couldn't handle it all at once.

But I'm still here... even though I am at the end of my rope, I have tied a knot so I can still hold on.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Say hello Seamus!

I read through the blogosphere recently that emerald green is the new "color of the year".... well how interesting! I already had an itch to paint something green but had no large pieces to work on, so this miniature fella seemed quite appropriate for the color. He needed a little work but in the end turned out fabulous!

This is Seamus, and even though he is a tiny guy he is busting out his green goodness large and in charge just in time for St. Patrick's Day! Tell me he isn't very handsome in that color, with those pulls and that paper in the desk and drawers? I love every little detail of this guy and as usual I will have a hard time letting him go.

If you are interested in Seamus head over to my Etsy store and pick him up for that special little girl in your life or that eclectic furniture collector friend!!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Say hello Romy and Michelle!

Just naming them Romy and Michelle cracks me up! See, these darlings are for my friend Ms. M and she currently owns Thelma and Louise... so another friend of mine suggested to stick with the "movie name" theme and call them Romy and Michelle. I'll admit I've never watched the movie until today, and let me just tell you, these two girls are just like them! Hot messes that end up totally cool in the end!!! HAHA!

First off, lemme explain how these two girls became what they are. Ms. M was in dire need of a cute pair of night stands for her bedroom, but darn if those aren't totally hard to come by. So I went on the hunt for an old vanity that could be taken apart and turned into night stands. Enter said vanity above....well, enter a very used and abused vanity above. The right side (pictured on the left in the before picture) was over used and by the looks of her, someone wasn't cautious of the damage they were doing. The legs were wobbly, the left side was completely split and that whole side piece felt like it was going to fall apart. In fact, when I did remove the legs they all fell out of their joints. yay. Time for gorilla glue! 

Oh if only making these beauties fabulous was as easy as lying about inventing Post-its....

Not only was the grace of a little glue and God holding these two girls together, there was some old teal and red paint that someone back in the day "accented" the rungs, front, top edge and that cute little wood design on the drawers with. Pfft... who would do that? Paint furniture like that.. that's just crazy... ;) Anyways, height was reduced by taking off the "foot" pieces, holes were filled, stubborn accent paint was stripped reluctantly, legs were glued and with A LOT of elbow grease and some pretty Kingfisher paint by Behr this is what Romy and Michelle turned out to be.... totally hot and unique. If they could win the heart of any guy it sure would be the one in the helicopter and not the one puking in the bushes.

Thanks for stopping by today!
I hope you love the transformation of these two beautiful ladies!
Don't forget to pin these to your favorite furniture transformations board in Pinterest!!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Say hello Jeanne!

Funny thing about this dresser...

At first it was intended to be a dresser for a nursery, but then I deemed it unusable because of it's condition (it was one of those oooo it's so cute, but too stinky). Then I decided that I was going to use it as a test subject for some painting and sealing techniques that I was trying out. I figured I didn't want to ruin something important, so I'd just use it instead. Once it was done being painted I completely forgot to paint the middle drawer (whoops) ... it's actually just a faux drawer because the bottom wood panel was rotted out. Then I sanded it a bit... then I bees-waxed the middle drawer... then I sealed it... then I was like, hey now... this isn't that bad looking.

Granted, it isn't perfect in it's finish. There are paint drips on the top that I let dry and some other random "completely not acceptable by my perfectionism" issues... but it did turn out pretty. So I thought, maybe I should make this into one of those planter dressers you see on covered porches that are so stinkin' cute. I took a picture with the drawers open, whipped out the Photoshop and loaded up the dresser, some random plants from the interwebz and a picture of my new-to-us front porch.

Awwwww.... isn't Photoshop awesome? I mean... isn't that cute???

Here's the plan:

1. I guess this cutie will stick around until spring time when I can stick some plants in some containers and stick them in the dresser that has been stuck on my front porch.


2. If someone local is interested in her, I'll be willing to part with her for a reasonable price. :)

PS - This dresser is named after Jeanne Baret! In 1766, Frenchwoman Jeanne Baret disguised herself as a man to work as an assistant to renowned botanist Philibert Commerson on the first French circumnavigation of the globe, meaning she was the first woman to ever travel around the world! A royal ordinance forbade women from being on French naval vessels; prejudice and custom prevented their participation in science as well. Nevertheless she maintained her disguise, classified hundreds of different species of plants and in the end was never recognized for her accomplishments until now. Just recently a new plant species was discovered and dubbed "Solanum Baretiae". Found in southern Ecuador and northern Peru, the fruit-bearing vine is part of the Solanum genus, one of the largest and most economically vital on the planet. (It also includes the potato, tomato and eggplant.)

How fitting for a dresser that didn't look like what, in the end, it potentially became right?
And look atcha growing your brain a little bit today too!!

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